Help! Something ate my favorite chicken?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by erinnyes, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had chickens for about a month now. I noticed early today (like before noon) that Nelly, my speckled sussex hen, was missing. This is not highly unusual; we let them out when the sun comes up, and they are free range so they sometimes roam away from the barn, but Nelly typically does not.

    Anyway, during the day I was away, but when I came home and was ready to lock the coop at sunset, I was surprised to find that Nelly was still gone. I searched for an hour and found her body, or what was left of it. It kind of looks like something pulled her innards out and ate the meat off her legs. Her head is still there and untouched, still connected to the body. Feathers are scattered around but not a lot of them.

    What I want to know is, what do you think killed her, and how can I trap it/kill it to keep the rest of my flock safe? [​IMG] Please help! I'm still very new at this and am very upset. I don't want to lose any of the other chickens I've come to think of as pets!
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2011
  2. duckinnut

    duckinnut Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can rule out an avian attacker because the tend to eat anything with size where they kill it and pick the meat of the bone and pluck the feathers off. I would think it be a 4 legged creature. Probably not a cat,where it was in the middle of the day could be a dog. Not sure of your set up if dogs abound or not or if you got neighbors. Skunk,possum and raccoon you can rule out as they tend to nocturnal movement. Fox and coyote could be the culprits as well. Again not sure where you live and your surroundings whether if your in a wooded area or swampy. Weasels,minks and fishers just kill for the fun of it and tend to bite the head off and eat the inards.
     
  3. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

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  4. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've seen only cats and skunks around for the past few days, but since it was daytime I also doubt that's what it was. The only other clue I have is that Nelly was molting, so I was kind of thinking that if she died and there was a great struggle or chase, I'd find loose feathers all over the place. Either I'm wrong about this or something surprised her? I took some pictures of the body in case someone could look at them and figure out what it looked like that ate her, but I will post them tomorrow, I don't feel like I have the heart to look at them again tonight.

    As far as the land goes, I live on a grassy horse farm. There are no boggy areas, and though there are a few trees, no forests nearby. We do have neighbor dogs but they don't really come on our property that I've seen. I've also never heard coyotes howling at night around here, or foxes, but I guess that doesn't mean it can't be them.

    My question is now, should I let my chickens out tomorrow? I am afraid for them! I only have 6 and am very fond of each of them.
     
  5. mrpekinduck

    mrpekinduck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    Ducky Land!
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] I think it was probably a weasel. And definately DO NOT let you're chickens out for the next week or until you kill the culprit.
     
  6. Toshi

    Toshi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    weasel's eat the head of the animal for soem reason, so possiably a skunk if you have been seeing them aorund, and no dont let your birds out. It knows where the food is now and will come back to get some more chicken dinner. Try to set a trap for it.

    Sorry about your bird. [​IMG]
     
  7. Johnn

    Johnn Overrun With Chickens

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    a weasel or stoat took my hen ate the head the rest of the body untouched, now i have to lock my hens up every night well adleast till spring when there is loads of rabbitts for them
    Quote:
     
  8. Attila the Hen

    Attila the Hen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So sorry for your loss. It's amazing how attached we get and of course it would be your favorite. Like rabbits, everything wants to eat chickens poor thing.
     
  9. erinnyes

    erinnyes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you all for your advice. I will definitely be getting a live trap and seeing what I get in it, although I imagine I might catch one of my barn cats every now and then if I bait it with chicken or meat. [​IMG] (And yes, I am sure they are not the ones that killed Nelly. My two cats hang out in the chicken yard but it is plain they are not interested in the chickens, even when I'm watching from a window and not physically there).

    One suggestion my friends gave me was to get a goat to pasture with the chickens. Maybe the presence of another large animal would deter some of the more timid predators? Or if not that, maybe set up a wild bird feeder or something at the other end of my property to attract predators away from where my chickens live?

    One thing I've been wondering if how often do people actually lose chickens to predators? Is this something I'm going to see happen a lot, or is it unusual?

    Sorry for all the questions, my chicken book explains about predators but the answers seem vague. [​IMG] Thank you!
     
  10. Toshi

    Toshi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    On the nights you put out the trap, lock the barn cats up so you don't snag them.

    Some people lose chickens here and there to stuff liek ratcoons and weasles, i dont know how many, but it happens thats all there is to it, it is sad when it happens but it does.

    I guess something large might help, I havve heard of people who had dogs with birds (only reallllly trusting dogs) never heard of a goat though, when mine are out free rang i am always home, and have them with my ponies. So maybe the goat would work, worth a shot i guess.
     

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